05 Confident Communication with Susan Heaton-Wright

05 Confident Communication with Susan Heaton-Wright

Be a Bigger Fish is the podcast that explores the power of podcasting to grow your business or your community.

About Susan

This episode features Susan Heaton-Wright, an impact, presence and speaking trainer and business leader.

[2:07] Susan tells us about her inspiring personal journey from shy teenager to charismatic Opera Singer, a music business manager and a coach. She now specialises in helping people to find their confidence and a voice to be heard at the top tables of their organisations. Susan believes it’s possible to learn the skills you need with the right mindset. You can then continue to build your confidence through experience.

[3:55] Finding other professionals were intrigued by her ‘presence’ in a room and her ability to calmly project her voice led Susan into her current career. Her initial focus was on vocal training and she describes how she’s adapted her business model to support all aspects of personal communication.

Why communication is like a musical performance

[5:55] Susan’s background as an Opera singer was perfect preparation for her role as a vocal coach and a communicator. She explains how music performances differ dependant on the reaction of their audiences. This emphasises the importance of listening while you’re communicating; when you’re preparing to deliver a talk, you should consider how the presence and likely reaction of your audience will impact the overall performance.

Listening and knowing your audience and reacting with them as a two-way process is a massive thing

Accent-calming and authenticity

[7:10] We talk about ‘accent calming’ and the need some people feel to adjust their accent so their audience can understand them. Susan talks about how the concept of accent calming sits with the need to be authentic. She points out that different languages have different ‘melodies’ and ‘rhythms’ and learning how to adapt English words to English rhythms can be helpful for people who’ve learned English as a second language.

Podcasting as a showcase for communication skills

[9:45] Susan started her podcast to showcase her communication skills and focus on the power of the voice. She also felt that, given the nature of her business, podcasting would be a way of ‘walking the talk’. 

[11:10] I asked Susan what she’d planned to achieve from her podcast and she surprised me by telling me she had no plan at all – she did it for the love! She nows finds it’s a really useful resource and an effective way to create and share content. Now that other people are sharing her podcast episodes, Susan is finding new clients are coming to her.

Starting out in podcasting

[14:33] Inspired by a webinar about podcasting for entrepreneurs, Susan got going. She found the biggest challenges were technical, but resolved those quite quickly. Susan felt some anxiety about publishing her podcast at first – she scripted her first episode and used it to explain her own personal journey to effective communication.

[17:05] I asked Susan what her advice would be for someone who needs to overcome that anxiousness about publishing a podcast and she poses the question, ‘what have you got to lose?’ You should also bear in mind that takes time to build an audience – just keep going beyond those first few episodes until you’ve developed a repository of content.

Keeping your content fresh

[19:00] Susan plans out themes and topics for her podcast, drawing on current affairs to inspire content ideas. She also invites guests onto her podcast to get fresh perspectives, but she describes the challenges of managing guests who don’t want to stick to the conventions of her podcast.

[23:30] We discuss the ‘rules’ of being a good podcast guest and the joy of having another podcaster as a guest!

[26:15] Susan tells us about her plans for her podcast and how she’ll create content to compliment the offers she’ll make under her business. She also talks about the fun you can have sharing your perspective on life and current events!

Being a Bigger Fish

[28:20] Susan brings up the challenge of stepping up to be a bigger fish and experiencing a ‘no’ from those around us. She shares some personal experience of this and describes how it’s easy to accept a ‘consolation’ offer when you face rejection – but beware of the possibility that this experience will undermine your own confidence. We talk about the impact of limiting beliefs on our own expectation of how big a fish we can be. Be clear of your skills and experience and be confident in the face of set-backs.

Susan’s ebook is available here and you can find her podcast, Superstar Communicator, here.

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